Posts Tagged ‘FOX News’

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FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL

January 31, 2010

Years ago, the minister in our church was giving a message on faith. As she embellished on the “evidence-of-things-not-seen” theme, she also spoke about “false evidence appearing real.” I find myself reflecting on those four words nearly every day.

As our 44th President enters his second year in office, my thoughts go back to his campaign. I, like he, am a pragmatist. As soaring as his rhetoric is, and his ability to deliver that rhetoric unmatched in my lifetime, I (like he) knew once in the Oval Office, his hopes for our country would be attacked ruthlessly everyday. It is always the case, especially with Democratic Presidents. As a rule, they usually want to improve our country’s social structure, which is an anathema to many who would like nothing better than to go back to the “Roaring Twenties.” Our President’s desire to bring people together to solve the nation’s problems continues to be met with staunch opposition, not because his ideas are wrong, but because his political opposition wants him to fail.

Since there is no rational reason for attacking his desire to make our country better, lying becomes the only course of action.

But lies alone won’t work. They must be worded correctly and marketed to the lowest intellectual common denominator, using words that appeal to peoples’ emotions and ignoring facts where necessary.

In other words, create false evidence that appears real.

A consultation with your doctor once every five years about end-of-life choices is labeled “death panel.” One of the twenty-one choices in a health insurance exchange managed exactly like the Medicare reimbursement program is the “government take-over of our entire healthcare system.”

Loaning money to the auto industry (something we’ve done more than once in the last few decades) is the government “now in the business of building cars.”

Not only are these statements false, but they are designed to invoke fear. Once fear is implanted, people gravitate to whoever is feeding them this “evidence.”  Yelling “fire” in a theatre may be wrong and even illegal, but once you hear someone shout it, you’re first inclination is to heed the warning, not investigate its truthfulness.

Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster and author of “Words That Work,” describes Americans as “…on the whole, ill-read, provincial, sullen and frightened.” He says they are, “… susceptible to mere rhetoric and responsive to arguably bogus appeals,” “…no matter what the facts.” I wish I could disagree entirely, but unfortunately, there is some truth to his statements.

However, I do believe Americans are slowly waking up. Politicians’ tactics, as they try to “crush” their opponents and further their personal agendas just to get elected and re-elected, are becoming transparent. With microphones and cameras everywhere, and most members of congress technologically challenged in this “information age,” many still speak and act indiscriminately, seemingly unaware of this new environment.

Can the day when John Boehner reveals his alcoholism, Pat Robertson reveals his true colors – which are anything but Christian – and media pundits’ blather becomes insignificant, be far off? I don’t think so. If the so-called awesome power of Rush Limbaugh, the 700 Club and FOX News can’t keep a man named Barack Hussein Obama from becoming President of the United States, we’re headed in the right direction.

It’s becoming more difficult to make False Evidence Appear Real.

Amen to that!

Sincerely,

www.MichaelKontras.com

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TO KILL A FROG

September 26, 2009

ToKillAFrog2LOGO

Far be it from me to EVER defend Glenn Beck – and I’m not defending him here. Even though he didn’t kill a frog, his political analogy was still absurd – and that’s a compliment.

But this is not about Glenn’s reasoning – it’s about the frog, which, as far as I’m concerned, deserves all the attention.

By now, most have probably concluded no frog was boiled to death by Glenn Beck. This is for those who are still not so sure. Yes, PETA members, I’m speaking to you.

Here’s the “controversial” clip from Beck’s show. 

Here’s some stills from the video. In this first still, we see Beck’s hand in the aquarium just after he grabs a frog.

FrogSlide01

He starts to close his hand.

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As he continues to close his hand, notice that he keeps his index finger slightly open.

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This is the slide that starts to reveal Beck’s process for letting go of the frog. You can see a small part of the frog between his thumb and index finger. Also notice there is nothing in the top right corner of the aquarium.

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In this slide, you see Beck creating an opening by moving his thumb out of the way, allowing the frog to jump out and land in the top right corner of the aquarium. His front legs hit the aquarium wall first.

FrogSlide05

In the next several slides, with the frog still located in the top right corner of the aquarium, you see Beck has closed his hand, and is removing it from aquarium. The frog’s rear legs are almost planted on the aquarium wall.

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Note that the frog is now firmly “attached” to the aquarium wall.

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In the next series of slides, Beck, no frog in hand, claims that he is throwing the frog into boiling water. One problem: you never see a frog go from his hands to the pot on the stove.

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No frog. No splash. Nothing.

And finally, here are the same video stills in a PDF Presentation. You can move through them at your pace with the up or down arrow. (This may take a few seconds to load.)

So, relax. As controversial as Beck is, I don’t think he’s a frog killer.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE’RE TALKIN’ ABOUT

September 25, 2009

WeHaveNoIdeaLOGO

There is a lighter side to protesting.

We don’t often see it in the media because the focus is always on the “noise.” The man in the center of the crowd, with the sunglasses, holding the sign, has an insightful sense of humor. The pictures below illustrate that humor, with a small amount of illiteracy added.

Thanks to Kanye West, I have now seen the word “I’mma.”

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Seen at the Prop 8 protest in California.

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Well, it’s either a good parody or… 

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I don’t think he got the memo.

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I can’t tell you how thankful I am this is a FOX News fan.

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If you need a sign to… Nevermind.

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No amount of information will make them realize the stupidity of their sign.

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My son Adam, who has done his share of traveling abroad,  has said many times, “If you aren’t happy living in this country, you will never be happy.” This goes for “douche bags” too.

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This person must be friends with the women two pictures up.

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Another guy with a great sense of humor at the Prop 8 protest.

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Ah yes, patriots for marijuana. What could be more American?

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She may want to get her money back for that Anatomy Class.

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Where do I start?

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Worth repeating.

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Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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THE DANGER OF A BROKEN RECORD

September 17, 2009

BrokenRecordLOGO

“When we lose our curiosity, we disarm ourselves as Americans.”

This quote is not from some philosopher. I didn’t hear it in a political speech or from a CEO. This was said by a man who is a former college football player and coach, a hunter and fisherman, and the owner of two small businesses. 

I’ll tell you who it is later.*

This lack of “curiosity” (or what many of us call “intellectual curiosity”) identifies a shrinking but noisy part of our citizenship. They loudly repeat what they hear, with no concern for the veracity of their words. If they heard it from their favorite commentator, it must be true.

In a nutshell, this is the formula for the success of FOX News and others emulating their format on TV and radio.

The people at FreedomWorks, (Dick Army’s organization), Glenn Beck’s 9-12 Project, the Tea Party Organizers and FOX News (the highest rated cable news network) decided to join forces for a show of strength against our President’s policies. With all of that publicity, and all spring and summer to prepare and promote this event, you would think that they would have packed the National Mall on September 12th. If it’s true that a large majority of the 300,000,000+ Americans aren’t happy with this President, one would expect at least 1% (3,000,000) to show up. But that’s not what happened. It wasn’t 1%, it wasn’t 1/10th of 1% (300,000), it was .022% (approximately 66,000) according to the DC police and fire departments. Not a small crowd, but certainly not what it was hyped up to be:

FreedomWorks said there were “…hundreds of thousands…” on their website.

FreedomWorksSite

The video below tries to make you believe that, “Rare footage from the terrace of the US Capitol building and time lapse footage of protesters marching down Pennsylvania Avenue illustrate the gathering of people who attended the March on Washing…”

Here’s a still from the footage. I noted the tower on the left for a reason.

FakeVideoSlide

Using the tower as a marker, watch how many times the same footage repeats to make you think there were far more people in attendance than authorities reported.

Here’s the rebuttal of a statement made at the gathering that ABC News reported 1 to 1.5 million attending.

Crowd Size Misquoted

In an attempt to discredit the truth, the picture below was distributed showing the National Mall filled with people. Once verified, it was revealed that the photo is at least 5 years old.

Fake Photo

The picture was of the Promise Keepers’ gathering in 1997. Less than one minute of research reveals this. Those with no intellectual curiosity don’t want to know. They find it easier to just repeat what they’ve heard.

I’m not going to bother to show you what FOX News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck (who did not show up at his own gathering) had to say about the attendance. They reported anywhere from 1.5 to over 2 million. Unlike their viewership and listeners, the rest of us know how to use a PC for research. 

What we saw at this gathering was a re-run of what we’ve seen all spring and summer: the same derogatory signs, the same all-white crowds and the same speeches. Below are some pictures from this most recent event that could have been taken at any of the anti-Obama events this year.

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It’s beginning to look (and sound) like a broken record.

I can’t stress this enough: what we are witnessing is fear and its offspring: hate (in the form of bigotry). I do believe some are there out of a real concern for this country’s future and not just because they don’t like the color of our President’s skin. But because they are only “armed” with what they hear, they don’t realize they are protesting against their own best interests. Whatever freedoms they think they are losing are not in jeopardy. The so-called “out-of-control government spending” that they are protesting has been going on since the 1980s.

Reagan cut taxes on the top 2% and the deficit doubled in his eight years. Here’s his reasoning:

George H. W. Bush had to go back on his “Read my lips – no new taxes” statement and raise taxes during his term because the Reagan deficits were “out of control.”

In his 1992 debate, George H. W. Bush discusses the recession – obviously Reagan’s economic policies did not work. You also see why Bill Clinton won the election.

When George W. Bush came into office, we were operating with a balanced budget and a surplus. We were also reducing the debt.

Here’s some charts for you visual learners like me. 🙂

 SurplusesDeficits

SpendingTaxes

One reason for Clinton’s economic policy success was “Pay-Go” (new spending had to be paid for and could not be added to the national debt). It was, unfortunately, allowed to expire in 2002.

It’s doubtful that anyone in the pictures above has done any of this research. They instead chose to be fearful and angry. What’s more pathetic is publically elected officials who will not stand up for what they know (at least I think they know) is the truth about these issues. They allow the misinformation to continue to divide us, because it’s more important to them to be re-elected than it is to bring this country together. Three of them spoke at the gathering. 

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There is a subtle underlying theme through all of these events starting to creep into mainstream media that is disconcerting. It’s the lack of respect for our legitimately elected President. Not his policies – him. Many of our citizens will never believe that a black man deserves to be President of the United States. Former President Jimmy Carter brought this thought to the forefront in an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams on September 15th

I hesitantly agree with some of what he said. My hesitation comes not from disbelief of his words, but from a desire to not attract more disrespect for President Obama.

And while I do believe there is racism in the afore mentioned events, I do not want to leave you with the idea that I think everyone that attended is racist. The issue is in desperate need of serious and thoughtful discussion, but I’m concerned that even the most constructive conversation may be twisted into dangerous dialogue. This is when a lack of curiosity morphs into something far more harmful.

I pray this period of our nation’s history is not marked by something that I’ve lived through too many times before.

Dangerous dialogue, indeed.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

* Ed Shultz, 09-15-09

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LOONEY LANE

September 9, 2009

I was at my Dad’s house September 5th to watch the Ohio State / Navy game. (OSU has some work to do!) As I have mentioned before, there are many Republicans in my family. It’s all they know, and I for one, have no intention of trying to change their minds. They’ll figure it out eventually – hopefully in this life. If not, there’s always the next one. 🙂 

One of my family members happened to mention the “sudden change” in Glenn Beck. “I used to love his radio show and when he was on CNN. Now, I don’t know what’s happened to him. He’s really out there!”

What happened to him, my beloved, uninformed, FOX-News-watching, Limbaugh-loving, family member, is a black man was elected President of the United States.

Since Beck started going “really out there,” his show is losing sponsors. I am not suggesting that he will lose his show, because the publicity he receives from his insidious statements all but guarantees his place on FOX News – and ONLY  FOX News. Here’s what upset the sponsors back in July:

Ads were pulled in droves. By mid-August, twenty sponsors asked that their products not be promoted during Beck’s show. Here they are:

1. Wal-Mart 
2. Best Buy 
3. CVS Drugstores 
4. Allergen 
5. Ally Bank (part of GMAC!) 
6. Broadview Security 
7. Re-Bath 
8. Travelocity 
9. ConAgra
10. GEICO
11. Lawyers.com
12. Men’s Wearhouse
13. Proctors & Gamble
14. Progressive Insurance
15. Radio Shack
16. Roche
17. SC Johnson
18. Sanofi-Aventi
19. Sargento
20. State Farm Insurance

Here’s more information on the sponsorship pull-out.

Beck making ludicrous statements should not surprise anyone. What is surprising, sadly, is the number of people who STILL believe what he, and others like him, say about our President.

Why is “the noise” getting louder and more ridiculous? The number of “believers” is diminishing. As the audience continues to dissipate, the noise will increase – but only for a while. It may take a few more decades, but eventually, there will be an implosion of this “shock” media genre. Ultimately, attrition will come to bigotry.

Can you imagine our country not allowing women to vote? No Social Security? No Medicare/Medicaid? No interstate highway system? There too, will come a time, no doubt long after I’ve left this earth, when people will read about this era, unable to imagine our country ever tolerating the likes of Glenn Beck in our media.

It’s my dream – let me enjoy it.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

PS – The original photo I used to create the title graphic was taken by yours truly while on vacation at Seabrook Island, SC, at the end of August. My wife and I were in Charleston on a carriage ride.

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20TH CENTURY FOX

June 24, 2009

20thCenturyFoxLOGO 

We all know that FOX News has always topped the TV ratings  for cable news.

That’s a problem – for FOX News.

Millions of people are moving away from watching news on TVs to watching news on their PCs and cell phones.

FOX has been outfoxed in the last two election cycles.

What’s the most visited online news website? MSNBC. According to the latest Nielson Ratings, in March, 2009, MSNBC topped the online ratings list with 39,900,000 hits to FOX News’ 16,800,000. Add to this the tens of millions that went to YouTube during the last two election cycles, and it’s not hard to understand that traditional TV news viewership is rapidly decreasing.

Internet traffic numbers are only part of MSNBC’s website success.

MSNBC’s parent company is a partnership between Microsoft and NBC (which is owned by General Electric). With Microsoft as one of your owners, there’s a good chance your website is going to be second-to-none – and theirs is. Add to that the fact that NBC News uses MSNBC’s website for THEIR programs and you have a very powerful online news website. It even beats CNN’s online traffic.

This is why you hear FOX News commentators railing against NBC and GE, with conspiracy theories, conflicts of interest stories, etc. Here’s one of many, many examples:

It’s not surprising that they’ve created this dialogue about the NBC family. FNC’s parent company, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, lost over $6,000,000,000 (that’s BILLION dollars) last year.

So why doesn’t FOX News’ TV ratings translate into big ratings for website viewership?

Most of FNC’s TV audience is above the age of 45. Generally speaking, that demographic is not nearly as internet savvy as the 34 to 45 and 18 to 33 demographics. They are also less educated in the latest technologies. Ten years ago, that didn’t matter. Today, it’s critical. The 45+ demographic that watches cable TV news, while having very loyal FNC viewers, is no longer large enough for FOX News to help Republicans win national elections. The 21st Century has moved beyond FOX News.

I can attest to these facts based on the people I know that are avid FOX News fans. Most are not computer literate. Many are at least my age or older. Those that are younger than me do not spend time researching information. Whether it’s from a lack of computer knowledge, or a lack of desire, I can’t be sure. These are the people that FOX News counts on – what I called the “Low Information Voter” in Faith Trumps Fear. Some of these people are family members as I wrote in Twelve Words and Yes, I’m Going There.

MSNBC, whose TV ratings are still far less than FNC’s, does not seem to be worried. Their ratings are increasing drastically and they managed to edge out CNN during primetime in March, 2009.

One more thing that gives MSNBC TV an edge is NBC. Contrary to what FNC spews about NBC, Brian Williams is #1 in the 6:30pm news ratings. Their news department is one of the most widely acclaimed in the industry for its fact-based reporting.

FOX News will never have the talent or gravitas of NBC, Microsoft or MSNBC.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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TWELVE WORDS

June 21, 2009

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“Anyone who can make you believe absurdities,

can make you commit atrocities.”

I know. I know. It’s just a bumper sticker.

But words are powerful. I wrote them down and drove off. As I continued running my errands that day, the sentence stayed with me. When I had the opportunity, I did a little “googling.”

With the exception of one word, the sentence is a quote from François-Marie Arouet, whose pen name is Voltaire. (He used the word “those” instead of “anyone.) After doing a little more research, I learned that this man was a bit of a non-conformist in his day. A contrarian, much like me.

A few days later, I was visiting with family and as is often the case, I started hearing FOX News/Rush Limbaugh talking points. “We’re losing our freedoms, one by one.” “We’re slowly becoming a European country” and “Our image around the world is weakening.” I listened to about three minutes of it, temporarily excused myself, and called my wife to tell her I was on my way.

As I was driving home, I remembered the Voltaire quote. While I know that no one in my family is capable of committing atrocities, I also know there are those who listen to hateful language from TV commentators and radio talk show hosts, day in and day out, that take these words to heart. Sadly and pathetically, some act on them.

Police officers killed in Pennsylvania because the shooter believed that President Obama was going to take his guns away. Where did he get that idea?

Dr. George Tiller murdered for performing legal medical procedures. Where did this gunman get the idea that Dr. Tiller was illegally killing babies?

To be sure, Bill O’Reilly is not Walter Conkrite and Keith Olbermann is not Tom Brokaw.

The 21st century, while bringing us incredible information technology, has also forced conventional media to move away from truth-telling to what has been called “Tabloid Television” and “Shock Radio.” The days of truthful television and radio “news” programs are all but gone.

If you are looking for the truth, unfortunately, you have to search for it. Fortunately, we have the internet. Yes, there’s plenty of spin there as well, but there are also plenty of facts. It’s not hard to discern the difference. The internet was responsible for the outcomes in the 2006 and 2008 elections. People started researching the “facts” heard on TV and radio, learned the truth about those “facts,” and voted accordingly. The corporate “noise machines” were not able to control the message, regardless of how many TV affiliates, radio stations and newspapers they owned. TV and radio ratings are becoming less and less significant. Internet traffic to news and information/video websites is the future.

Hearing absurdities from commentators is entertaining. Hearing them repeated by family members is something entirely different. My reaction is a mixture of surprise and sadness. The surprise is that these are educated people with good jobs and young families. The sadness – and concern – is for the children. What’s the take-away message for them when they hear their parents talking like this? No hope? No freedom? No future? No security? Hate? Fear?

Just a bumper sticker?

Really?

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com